Finishing projects and starting new ones

Fair warning- this is a wordy post!

I have the bad habit of starting many things all at once and occasionally lose sight of how important it is to slow down and focus. Ironically, this had become quite the mantra in art class- “Just slow down and take your time…we’re in no hurry to rush through things. We have plenty of time.” However most of the time I do mean time as in months, not minutes in the class- because those we always seem to blow through so quickly! I usually try to be flexible about the ending time though, so more often than not the one-hour class turns into more of a 90 minute thing. In any case- this post is just evidence of how busy we’ve been, and how many things we have to keep us busy for quite some time! I think that’s my overall goal- not to necessarily create a chaotic environment but to find a place where we can all be happily busy working on things that bring us joy and the occasional frustration (which I call “artistic growth”) that hopefully carries satisfaction into other aspects of our lives. Secondary to that goal is the goal to be as independent as possible in these projects- not so volunteers can do nothing but so the final product is as complete a picture of the artist’s unique hand as possible.

All that said, I’m dividing this post into two parts- one to show a few things we’ve wrapped up, and the other to show a different project entirely that’s kind of been a sidekick to everything taking place in our Tuesday classes that I hope makes a regular appearance down the line.

Part I: Vinh and Kim’s final results of their personal projects

I have to hand it to Vinh- ever since we’ve started these personal projects he’s been motivated, detail oriented, excited, perseverant, and almost completely independent. The only times someone has given him help is when we looked up fonts together and printed them out in the office, when the xacto knife broke or wasn’t working quite right and when we did the final prints. Everything else was all him from finding the tshirt he wanted to print on to copying out the letters by hand just the way he wanted them to painstakingly cutting out each and every letter. I’m so proud of him- and I really think he enjoyed the process and would do it again, which is impressive. We finished this just in time for our Innisfree Halloween bash!

A brief background on the screen-printed shirt- the T.V. show Glee did an episode a while back called “Born This Way” where the actors and actresses wore tshirts highlighting their flaws or things they were self conscious about as a point on their journey to self acceptance. I talked to Vinh about the way this tshirt embraces his flaws and what I got out of our conversation was that he feels he is generally perceived as an easy-going “nice guy” but likes the idea of having more of a rebel side- so that’s the side he wants to embrace! I can’t imagine this will stir up any trouble- rather, I think it will give him self confidence and the ability to embrace parts of himself that he might hide to please other people. This has actually been a recurring conversation I’ve had with multiple people at Innisfree lately and personally I love the idea- we should all be allowed to change if we want to without worrying about how other people already see us.

And then there’s Kim- much like Vinh she’s a quiet, self motivated artist who rarely asks for guidance and seems to be positive and excited about what she’s doing. The difference comes in where, unlike Vinh, I don’t think Kim has and end product in mind for any of her paintings. Rather- she’s intuitive, spontaneous, thoughtful, peaceful, and detached in a really delightful way that gives her paintings such spirit. Her colors were pre-mixed by a volunteer after she requested “a rainbow of colors” but all of the imagery is her own. It changed from week to week and the only thing she was instructed on was to just not leave any white space. In fact, she was sure she was done on Tuesday but then I asked her to look at it and decide for sure and she thought a while before stating “Oh I see some white on there!” Whether this was from volunteer prompting or truly something she felt she needed to work on, I’m not quite sure. But like I said she has a delightful detachment from her paintings that means it seems as if she’d be proud no matter how it turns out. And we are proud OF her! Take a look

Part II: Printed fabrics

I’m going to be bold and honest here- I’ve had a daydream for some time about turning our artists drawings into repeat patterns on fabric. While going to school, I could never quite figure out why I was dissatisfied most of the time with my own imagery, and why the pictures in my head never quite came to life like I wanted them to. Since coming to Innisfree, all of that has changed. Every time I see a new drawing that someone has done in art class it makes me want to make printed fabric with our own stamps, stencils, screens, etc and it literally makes my heart beat faster when I see images that could be turned into repeat patterns. Maybe that’s an excess of coffee speaking, but let’s just attribute it to extreme affection for our artists work! After a recent trip to two camp-hill communities in PA, I’ve been motivated to just give it a shot and luckily there are some people in the community willing to support it! I’ve tried two processes so far- making a screen with a repeat print of one of Kim’s drawings and carving a linoleum block into one of Bee’s. It’s been extremely satisfying, and the screen printed fabrics are even going to be used in a few of our weavery bags! Stay tuned because I smell an “Innisfree Print Shop” on the horizon…


All of these images were developed with the artist’s permission, and since these processes are even a huge learning curve for me I’ll be learning them and developing ways to involve the art class more and more as times goes on. Phew…thanks for reading!